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Agent Brodie Van Wagenen likely to be Mets new general manager

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The Mets general manager search still, officially, continues, and two candidates —  Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom and agent Brodie Van Wagenen — are still, officially, the candidates. The baseball media, however, seems to be coalescing around the idea that Van Wagenen will be named the Mets new GM.

Today Andy Martino of SNY reported that Van Wagenen was “in the lead,” and Jeff Passan of Yahoo, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com and Joel Sherman of the New York Post are saying or implying that Van Wagenen has been offered the job. It would appear that the Mets are giving him a few days to tie up his business loose ends before making things public.

Those loose ends would seem to be pretty significant: among his many clients, Van Wagenen represents Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier and Tim Tebow. While Tebow is not a huge concern baseball wise, those other guys are all going to be subject to big decisions at one point or another by the front office Van Wagenen seems poised to lead. That could make for some awkward situations.

For example, back in July, Van Wagenen said publicly that deGrom was worthy of receiving a long-term contract extension from the Mets and if they wouldn’t do it, they should trade him. He’s arbitration eligible for the third time this offseason. Next month deGrom is likely to win the NL Cy Young Award, making him even more expensive. Does Van Wagenen have a tacit agreement with the Wilpons to give deGrom that contract of which he recently said his client was deserving, or does he take a hard line with deGrom in the way a GM might normally do? It’s an interesting question, which I would hope Van Wagenen, deGrom and the Wilpons have addressed privately already, but no matter what happens, it’d be reasonable to scrutinize the decision and the process which led to it. The same goes for any decisions Van Wagenen makes regarding any of his soon-to-be-former clients.

Last week Bill wrote about Scott Boras’ complaint that it would be a conflict of interest for any agent to take a GM job. I don’t agree with Boras on that necessarily, for the reasons Bill noted. There’s no rule against it. An agent, like Dave Stewart did when he went to the Diamondbacks, could divest his business. It’d be awkward for a while, but it’s not an inherent problem that applies to any and all situations in which an agent got a job in a front office.

Practically speaking, however, Van Wagenen’s hiring, which seems imminent, does raise at least some potential ethical issues given that he has multiple clients on the very team he’s about to take over. One hopes that he and the Wilpons have good answers to questions about them going forward.

 

Phillies-Mets could get contentious tonight

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As the Mets were wrapping up a 9-0 shellacking of the Phillies on Tuesday night, reliever Jacob Rhame threw a pitch up and in to first baseman Rhys Hoskins with two outs in the ninth inning. The pitch sailed behind Hoskins’ back. The slugger wasn’t happy about the scare, understandably. Players began to trickle out of their respective dugouts, but a fracas was avoided.

Hoskins was skeptical that Rhame simply missed his spot. Per MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan, Hoskins said, “He didn’t miss up and in the rest of the inning, so I’ll let you decide. I would assume teams are pitching me in because that’s where they think they can get me out, and that’s fine. That’s part of the game. Again, I think most guys are capable of pitching inside and not missing that bad.”

Teammate Bryce Harper said, “I don’t get it. I understand that two of their guys got hit yesterday. But, I mean, if it’s baseball and you’re going to drill somebody, at least hit him in the [butt]. Not in the head. You throw 98, it’s scary now. You could kill somebody. Lose your eyesight. That’s bigger than the game.”

Indeed, two Mets were hit by pitches on Monday night. José Álvarez hit Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning, which advanced a base runner. In the very next at-bat, Juan Nicasio hit Pete Alonso with a first-pitch fastball. It was obvious neither was intentional as the Phillies were only down two runs and hitting both batters advanced base runners and led to runs scoring. It is less obvious that Rhame’s pitch to Hoskins was unintentional, but he showed empathy in his post-game comments. Rhame said, “When you accidentally sail one, it’s probably pretty scary. I’d get [angry], too.”

Will Wednesday night’s series finale be contentious? Despite being “fairly upset,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, “We do not retaliate, and we do not throw at anybody intentionally,” Jake Seiner of the Associated Press reports.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway didn’t give as straight an answer. Per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, Calloway said, “I think at this point, you just go out there and beat people, and win. … For now, I don’t feel like anything has been intentional at us that has warranted anything from our side.” If that changes, however, Calloway said, “They’re going to have each other’s backs.”

Hopefully, neither side decides to take justice into their own hands. But, welcome to the NL East in 2019. The Mets lead the Phillies by one game, and the Braves and Nationals by 1.5 games. It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out division fight all year long.